Gardening with Confidence:
50 Ways to Add Style for Personal Creativity

by Helen Yoest

GWC Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-985-41680-5.
Reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
Posted on 02/03/2013

Nonfiction: Creative Life; Nonfiction: Active Life; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment

Helen Yoest seems to have a goal in life. (Besides being a terrific writer, gardener and photographer.) She wants her readers to develop confidence and creativity in making their gardens. She doesn't tell you what to do. Instead, she explains how to do it, and then turns you loose to explore the possibilities. Giving you the basics of design elements, and ideas, she allows your own personality and flair to shine.

The "50 Ways" that Yoest delineates in her book are in 50 chapters, in four parts: Garden Basics, Garden Styles, Garden Elements and Your Garden Environment. She covers so many interesting things--herb gardens, moss gardens, garden beds, arbors, kids in the garden, gardening for the seasons...all with wonderful full-color pictures. The book's production values are wonderful, and almost all the photographs are taken by Yoest herself. Her thoughts, throughout the book, on "Helen's Haven" (her own garden, started in 1997) as a place for family, children and friends provides a special look at design reaching its perfect form.

Starting with the basics, Yoest covers the rule of threes in creating gardens that suit your house, your lifestyle and your own inventiveness. From there, she moves on to understanding styles and identifying the style you wish to encompass. "Be who you want to be in your garden. It's yours to do with as you please..." The section on the elements in the garden is dynamite--and brings good understanding to those things you may have been too cautious or fearful to try: water elements, a winding garden path, or art in the garden. Yoest has encouraged me to embrace the idea of a "garden house," a glorified shed, as she calls it, a place to escape as well as a utilitarian place for your tools.

The chapters on your garden environment speak to being resourceful in the space you share with wildlife. There are sections on attracting birds, bees and butterflies, along with cautions about where to put these things if you have children, thoughts about reducing lawn and developing a sustainable yard are found in this last segment of the book. Each slice of this book gives you great ideas, creative possibilities, and an appreciation and confidence in your own imaginative gardening. I can't wait for Spring!

Helen Yoest is an award winning freelance garden writer, scout and stylist for some of the nation's leading shelter magazines. Her work regularly appears in Country Gardens magazines, Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Southern Living magazine, Carolina Gardener, Triangle Gardener, and many others. Enjoy her website.

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